December 6, 2023
Food & Drink News Opinion What's On

MICHAEL WOLSEY: A pint, a coffee, a cinema seat … these are a few of my favourite things

As the old Kitty Kellen song told us, little things mean a lot.

And so, having done a bit of shopping, I bought a newspaper and wandered into a pub. I ordered a pint at the bar and exchanged some aimless chatter with the barman while he poured it. Then I took my paper and my pint to the end of the counter where, seated on a comfortable bar stool, I read one and sipped the other. Bliss.

It’s not something I would do often. Bars are for socialising, I think. For meeting friends, swapping stories, putting the world to rights.They are places for fun, a nice drink and, increasingly nowadays, for good food.

But I could enjoy all these things under Covid restrictions. More or less. Booking a table and sitting at it wasn’t a great hardship and I didn’t mind showing a vaccination certificate or wearing a mask on entry. Early closing was a pain in the ass some evenings but suited me fine on others.

These things all took a little preparation, a price worth paying for an hour or two in pleasant company, but more trouble than the pleasure of a quiet drink was worth, even if I knew exactly when and where I wanted to enjoy the solitary pint.

It’s just a little luxury but it’s nice to have it back.

And next day, when I met a friend in the street, we  walked into a café for a cup of coffee. Just like that. We didn’t have to plan it, like a military manoeuvre. She didn’t mind that she had forgotten her mask and I didn’t care that I couldn’t locate the Covid cert on my phone. No fuss, just a coffee. More bliss.

Now I have booked tickets for the theatre and, by the time you read this, I will have been at a cinema to watch Kenneth Branagh’s  Belfast.

Our family has put a holiday in the sun on hold for the past two years. Now I’m feeling confident enough to start checking on flights for July.

We can’t do much about the big things. I hope with all my heart that a new Covid variant won’t spring up to wreck our lives or, worse still, a conflict in eastern Europe. But If these things happen, I won’t be able to stop them.

However, I can do things to help preserve the small pleasures I am now rediscovering. I can support the local shops, bars and cafés, the cinemas and theatres that I have too often taken for granted.

Even on bad days, I can try to be pleasant to all those people who provided me with vital services over the pandemic months.

And I can abide by the few Covid rules that remain. I can take a test if I feel ill and isolate if the result is positive. I can wear a mask in shops and on the bus or train, stand at a social distance in public places, keep my vaccines up to date.

Little things. But as Kitty said …


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